ISL vows to 'honour all obligations' as LiveWire readies legal action
By Susan Lingeswaran
The International Swimming League, the nascent club-based competition, told Sportcal today it will "honour all obligations," as legal cases against the company begin to mount.
It said its desire to put on a competition in a Covid-impacted 2020 may well have "caused friction with some suppliers," but noted any outstanding issues will be dealt with.
The ISL was responding after LiveWire Sport, the UK-based digital agency, announced it had instructed its lawyers to begin legal proceedings against the ISL in either England or Switzerland if it does not immediately pay debts owed for services provided during season one.
For its inaugural 2019 season, the ISL hired LiveWire Sports to provide services including social media management and content production.
The agency last month said it was considering taking legal action against the league after it fell behind on payments in December 2019 and still owes a six-figure sum.
The ISL said at the time it was “puzzled” by the threat of legal action as it was in proactive and constructive discussions with the company.
However, today LiveWire announced it would be escalating its complaint by instructing its lawyers to begin legal proceedings unless full payment is made.
In a statement, LiveWire Sport said: “We have been waiting over 10 months now for full payment for the services provided to ISL for Season 1. This is despite ISL acknowledging the debt and saying they intend to pay the outstanding amount.
“We have received advice from lawyers in the UK and Switzerland (where ISL is registered) and our lawyers in the UK have sent a letter to ISL informing them that if the debt is not paid in full we will commence Court proceedings in England and if need be will also take steps in Switzerland.
“Our team worked incredibly hard in difficult circumstances to help ISL launch in 2019 and we are frustrated at the way we have been treated. After several months of waiting we notified ISL on 22 September that they had until 20 October to pay the debt in full, but that deadline passed without any payment being received.
“We note the statement that was made by ISL on 29 October about being ‘in proactive and constructive discussions’ yet we have not heard from ISL since we were last in touch with them on 15 October and have not received any payments since two part-payments in July.”
The ISL’s second season, held entirely in Budapest, is coming to a close, with the final set for this weekend and LiveWire Sports’ move comes only days after it was announced that two senior figures involved in the ISL had quit over alleged unpaid wages.
Last weekend, Hubert Montcoudiol, managing director and head of commercial operations, and Jean-Francois Salessy, general manager of the Energy Standard Paris team and agent of French swimmer Florent Manaudou, quit their roles citing a lack of payment and other issues.
On his departure, Salessy launched a scathing attack on ISL founder Konstantin Griorshin on how he is running the league, claiming the ISL “is a boat without governange, but with a single shareholder and generals without power” and comparing it to “an iceberg with an attractive visible part and a much darker submerged side.”
Meanwhile, Montcoudiol suggested his pay was withheld by Griorshin for not generating enough commercial partnerships for the season.
In addition IMG, the international sports marketing agency owned by Endeavor, is understood to still be awaiting full payment for broadcast production services provided during the 2019 season.
It is understood that a six-figure sum remains unpaid with only a portion of the payment having been settled.
In response to LiveWire’s statement and recent allegations about the league’s governance, the ISL told Sportcal it would honour all its obligations to suppliers and would improve its operations in the future.
It said: “Despite the significant financial challenges that all sports rights-holders have faced this year and against all the odds, the ISL has managed to deliver a fantastic product in its second season.
“We had hoped for meaningful revenues to come in but alongside the impact of the pandemic our commercial operations have also failed significantly with most projections not materialising. The way we approach the market will need to be different going forward.
“Our head-down approach to deliver Season 2020 may have caused friction with some suppliers but we will honour all obligations, which are less than 5 per cent of last year’s overall expenditure.
“Going forward and before planning starts for Season 3, we will need to close all outstanding issues from the past and we will adjust our internal organisation and process to improve our operational discipline to continue being a reliable partner to all our suppliers.
"We are optimistic for the future and are hoping for the best that the sports industry bounces back, and we find certain brands with which to partner to support our cause."
ISL’s full statement can be found at: https://isl.global/news/